Video: U.S. Congressman John Lewis (Democrat) gives fiery speech,Voting Rights Amendment is pulled by Paul Broun (Republican)

May 12, 2012

Government/Politics, Laws

After fiery speech by Congressman John Lewis, Voting Rights Amendment is pulled

By Jennifer Steinhauer
The New York Times
Sometimes during lengthy floor debates on bills, interesting things happen in the witching hours.

Such was the case late Wednesday, when Representative John Lewis of Georgia pushed back with a fiery speech directed at an amendment offered by Representative Paul C. Broun of Georgia that would have barred the Justice Department from using money to enforce a part of the Voting Rights Act.

At around 10 p.m., Mr. Lewis, a former civil rights leader, took to the podium to denounce the amendment, which sought to end financing for enforcement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, designed to protect minority voters from being disenfranchised.

He began by saying it was “hard and difficult and almost unbelievable that any member, especially a member from the state of Georgia,” would offer the amendment. As he laid out various methods used before the civil rights movement to suppress the black vote, he added: “People died for the right to vote! Friends of mine! Colleagues of mine!”

Mr. Broun appeared shaken and, in an unusual move, withdrew his own amendment.

On Thursday, Meredith Griffanti, a spokeswoman for Mr. Broun, who is a medical doctor, said that he “fully believes in the intent of his amendment to prevent the Justice Department from enforcing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” but added that “given the magnitude of this change and out of respect for his colleagues, Dr. Broun withdrew the amendment.”

“He felt as though it deserved ample debate time where all members could participate rather than during a closed-off discussion in the late hours of the evening,” she said. “Dr. Broun looks forward to having this debate in the future.”





John Robert Lewis

John Lewis at age 23 at the March on Washington in 1963

John Lewis is the U.S. House of Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, serving since 1987. 

Lewis was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

John Lewis received a bachelor’s degree in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University and also graduated from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville.

In 1961, Lewis joined SNCC in the Freedom Rides. Riders traveled the South challenging segregation at interstate bus terminals. In 1963, Lewis helped plan and took part in the March on Washington. At the age of 23, he was a keynote speaker at the historic event. On March 7, 1965, John Lewis of SNCC and the Reverend Hosea Williams of SCLC led 525 marchers across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. State troopers attacked the marchers in a violent incident that later became known as “Bloody Sunday”. On March 9, 1965 Martin Luther King, Jr. led about 2,500 marchers out to the Edmund Pettus Bridge.


Freedom Riders “wanted to be a part of this effort to change America.” John Lewis, the future congressman, was arrested for his actions. Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

John Lewis Leads Marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama, 1965
Copyright, the Birmingham News, all rights reserved.


John Lewis is arrested and taken to jail.

Selma-Montgomery March: Martin Luther King leading march from Selma to Montgomery to protest lack of voting rights for African Americans. Beside King is John Lewis, Reverend Jesse Douglas, James Forman and Ralph Abernathy. March 1965. (Photo Credit: Steve Schapiro/Corbis)


Paul Collins Broun, Jr.

Paul Broun is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 10th congressional district, serving since 2007. He is a member of the Republican Party and the Tea Party Caucus.

U.S. Representative Paul Broun, M.D. (GA-10) seen the day he joined the newly created Tea Party Caucus:

“Over the past 15 months, Americans across the nation have expressed outrage over Washington’s out-of-control spending and efforts to ram through an agenda without the consent of the governed,” said Broun.  “The Tea Party Caucus is designed to give these frustrated Americans a voice in Washington.  The Caucus understands that we represent the American people, and these individuals have demanded Washington implement fiscal restraint, shrink the size of the federal government, and preserve our nation’s free-market system.  I am proud to join my colleagues in the Tea Party Caucus to ensure Washington starts listening to ‘we the people.’”

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One Comment on “Video: U.S. Congressman John Lewis (Democrat) gives fiery speech,Voting Rights Amendment is pulled by Paul Broun (Republican)”

  1. Paul Wilson / Phila, Pa Says:

    I consider Mr Lewis to be most- Courageous – unsung hero’s of this generation. He displays a degree courage and moral stamina that surpasses a Four Star General. He fought a war without weapons, survived on his Will, and won with Faith. His Mission began something that could not be Stopped, He and rest of the Freedom Riders went First. His Name belongs right next to Martins


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